Basic Engagement Party Rules of Etiquette

After a woman or man accepts the other’s proposal of marriage—the exuberant YES following the question of “Will you marry me?”—the next step in a long line of celebrations is the engagement party. But, what exactly are the rules of etiquette when it comes to the engagement party?

General Rules of Etiquette

Traditionally, only the bride’s parents should host the engagement party. It is a time-honored tradition in which parents get to tell their family and close friends that their little girl is getting married!

There are several other rules to engagement parties that should be followed. In fact, etiquette dictates a few small items that may or may not be known to those involved in an engagement party. These include:

  • Guests should not bring presents. Therefore, registry information should not be included with the invitations.
  • Close friends and relatives from both the bride and groom’s families should be invited. Usually, the engagement party only consists of those who will be in the wedding and the parents of both the bride and groom.
  • The party should be small and intimate.
  • Formal invitations are up to the hosts. Invitations done over the phone are also acceptable.
  • Guests should not be expected to bring anything, including food, unless they offer first.
  • Invitations should be sent out shortly after the proposal is accepted. Usually, the party should be held no more than one month later.
  • Engagement parties should be held at the bride’s parents’ house. If the party is small enough, a restaurant setting is also acceptable. Typically, the engagement party is held as a cocktail party or a sit down dinner.
  • The bride and groom must both be at the engagement party.
  • The bride’s father is the person who should announce the official engagement during the engagement party.
  • If any guest shows up with a gift for the newly engaged couple, the guests should be put out of sight in another room and opened in private. This ensures those who did not bring gifts do not feel uncomfortable.

Alternatives to the Engagement Party

In reality, an engagement party is a dying breed. Rarely are they held in today’s society. Instead, Save The Date cards and engagement notices in local newspapers are more commonly utilized to share the news with family and friends.

Creating Engagement Party Announcements

If engagement party announcements are decided upon. The wording should clearly state the location, bride-to-be’s name, the groom-to-be’s name, the date, time, RSVP information, and the host information.

Mr. and Mrs. Robert Doe
request the pleasure of your
company at a cocktail party
at 4:30 P.M.
Saturday, April 7th, 2012
to celebrate the engagement
between their daughter Jane
and her soul mate
Warren A. Smith.

Cocktails, hors d’ouevres
and a light dinner
will be served at the
Doe residence.
1212 Maple Avenue
Essex, Colorado.

RSVP regrets to 555-1212

As engagement parties are meant to be intimate, low-key affairs, there is no need to call up and verify on RSVPs. If you do not receive a response, assume that person cannot make it. It can be a good idea to keep extra food on hand in case someone who has not responded then shows up.

An engagement party can be an excellent way to share in the joy of a newly engaged couple. Done with tact and class, it can launch many happy years together!


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